By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
U.S. Marines assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (1/6), 2D Marine Division along with land forces from Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, United Kingdom and Ukraine conducted a series of joint training events, live fire ranges and culminated with a final integrated exercise which simulated an amphibious raid in the Black Sea region as part of Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 (SB21), June 28 – July 10.
“Exercise Sea Breeze is a fantastic opportunity for our Marines to conduct realistic field training in a new environment, and moreover an opportunity to learn from our NATO Allies and partner forces.” said Lt. Col. M.M. Robeson Jr., commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “The first phase was an opportunity to get familiar with the other services that we were working with from other nations. We had a transition period on the 4th of July where we paused to celebrate Naval Forces Day for Ukraine and, of course, Independence Day for the United States, and then we moved into the final phase of the exercise.”
The final phase was a multinational raid which began with a simulated amphibious assault into the northern training areas of Oleshky Sands.
“Exercise Sea Breeze is a tangible example of how the United States stands beside Ukraine on the front lines of Russian aggression,” said Col. Brittany Stewart, U.S. Embassy Kyiv Defense Attaché. “This exercise demonstrates Ukraine's growing maritime security relationship with the United States and the 32 other participating Allies and partners.”
First, Ukrainian Marines seized a western training objective while U.S. Marines seized two eastern training objectives, separated by a distance of approximately 2000m. The terrain in this portion of the training area is thickly forested with thorny acacia trees in the north, which progresses into sandy savannah.
Alpha Company reinforced used tactical vehicles (MTVRs) to insert its forces, and subsequently conducted a five kilometer infiltration to attack and seize key terrain. Of two terrain features they seized, one terrain feature was defended by an exercise adversary force and the other was not.
This exercise adversary force they encountered was made up of T-80 tanks, which occupied defensive positions 2000 meters southeast of their objective area, where the terrain opens up with visibility for several kilometers with line of sight only broken by a few rolling hills and brushy areas.
The tanks were positioned to counterattack the Marines, once identified. Instead, the Marines stayed covered and concealed as they infiltrated to their objective area, identify the T80s in their hidden positions and report their movements to the battalion.
Alpha Company then transitioned to the defense for the night. The following day they received a fragmentary order to conduct a combined hasty attack with the Ukrainian Armored Vehicles (BTR-80s), against an enemy encampment. The multinational attack was successful and by the afternoon, all personnel and gear returned from the training areas to their main camp at Oleshky Sands.
“The exercise is a great experience for the Marines from 1st Battalion, 6th Marines and those from II Marine Expeditionary Force that accompanied us out here in Oleshky Sands.” said Robeson. “The opportunity to operate in an expeditionary environment… is a great win for us and I think a great win for the partners we worked with.”
SB21 provides the opportunity for personnel of participating nations to engage in realistic maritime training to build experience and teamwork and strengthen our interoperability as we work toward mutual goals.
Beginning in 1997, Exercise Sea Breeze brings most Black Sea nations and NATO Allies and partners together to train and operate with NATO members in the pursuit of building increased capability.
“Sea Breeze 2021 provides an important opportunity for NATO Allies and partners to demonstrate interoperability and forge the bonds to strengthen our Marine Corps and other supporting units..” said Capt. Stuart Bauman, U.S. Navy lead for Exercise Sea Breeze 2021. “The Black Sea is an important body of water to world commerce and does not belong to any one country but to the global community.”
SB21 is taking place from June 28 to July 10 in the Black Sea region and focuses on multiple warfare areas including diving operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, and search and rescue operations.
Ukraine and the U.S. are co-hosting the exercise in the Black Sea with participation and support coming from NATO allies and partners from around the globe.
Ukraine and U.S. are cohosting the exercise in the Black Sea with participation and support coming from 29 countries in total: Albania, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.
U.S. participation includes the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, U.S. Marines from 2D Marine Division and 2ND Marine Logistics Group, Navy Underwater Construction Team UCT-1B, and members of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet staff.
Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 is an annual multinational maritime exercise, involving sea, land, and air components, and is co-hosted by the United States and Ukraine to enhance interoperability and capability among participating forces in the Black Sea region.
2d Marine Division, headquartered at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is a multi-role, expeditionary ground combat force. The division is employed as the ground combat element of II Marine Expeditionary Force or may provide task-organized forces for assault operations and such operations as may be directed. The 2d Marine Division provides the ground amphibious forcible entry capability to the naval expeditionary force and conducts subsequent land operations in any operational environment.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with joint, allied, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.